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Fasting prisoners’ families refuse deportation deal

Some families prefer death for loved ones instead of being sent to Gaza

Image Credit: AFP
Children take part in a protest in Gaza City on Tuesday in solidarity with Palestinian prisonersheld in Israeli jails. Hundreds of the prisoners declared a one-day fast yesterday in solidaritywith four inmates whose hunger strike has fuelled protests in the West Bank.
Gulf News

Ramallah: The families of fasting Palestinian prisoners have refused a possible deal brokered by Egyptians to secure the release of their loved ones in return for ending their hunger strike followed by a year of deportation to Gaza.

The Israeli Channel 7 announced the possible deal which will include prisoners rearrested after being released at the prisoner swap deal. The Channel said the prisoners will be deported to Gaza for a year after being released from the Israeli prisons.

The families of the prisoners said there was no room for such deals with Israelis who seldom keep their promises and commitments.

“I would prefer Jaafar’s martyrdom to his deportation to Gaza for even a single day,” said Asma Ezz Al Deen, a wife of Jaafar Ezz Al Deen who launched his hunger strike 85 days ago, in an interview with Gulf News. Jaafar himself had earlier rejected several Israeli deportation offers in return for his immediate release.

Jaafar who has lost 24 kilograms of weight and who currently weighs 48kg has two wives and seven children, all of who need him, said Asma.

She maintains that there is no chance Jaafar or his family would accept any kind of deportation offer. “The situation with the fasting prisoner is extremely critical and needs real international pressure to force Israel to release those prisoners who are actually on the verge of death,” she stressed.

Samer Al Essawi, who has been on a hunger strike for 212 days, has refused Israeli offers of deportation and announced that it was either unconditional release from the Israeli prison and freedom in his home in Al Eisawiyah of occupied East Jerusalem or martyrdom.

“This is his choice and his family respects that,” said Sherine Al Essawi, Samer’s sister. “Samer refuses even to discuss the issue of his release in return for deportation,” she told Gulf News.

“Samer’s family cannot and will not put any kind of pressure on Samer and help the Israelis getting relieved from their embarrassing and confusing situation,” she said. “We will never join forces with the Israelis in pressing Samer to end his hunger strike which has become the world’s longest hunger strike ever launched.”

Sherine said that her family members have been under massive Israeli pressure to convince Samer to end his fast, but “that will never happen,” she said.

Ayman Al Sharawanh who has been fasting for 236 days with only nine days break, refused an Israeli deportation offer when he was on his 20th day of fast.

“Ayman’s family basically refuses any kind of deportation for Ayman who supports nine children,” said Jihad, a brother to Ayman. “We had not any kind of contact with Ayman for such a long time, but rejecting the deportation offers is an unchanging position of his family,” he told Gulf News.

Amani Srahna, an official at the Palestinian Prisoner Club, said that there has been no agreement between the Israelis and the Egyptians on the issue of prisoners. “The Palestinian side has not been informed about any kind of agreement between the two sides [the Israelis and the Egyptians],” she said.

“Genuine and serious efforts are currently underway to end the suffering of the fasting prisoners and their families,” she told Gulf News.